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Politically Competent & Good Corporate Citizenship

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Senior executives from a variety of organizations are often called to testify about health policy issues. It is in the organization's best interest if these executives are both politically competent and good corporate citizens.

1. In general terms, what knowledge, skills, and individual behaviors must an executive have to be politically competent and to be good corporate citizens?

2. Think about the witness whose testimony you summarized for the group project. Did he or she demonstrate political competence? Explain.

3. Think about a particular healthcare organization's corporate citizenship. How would you describe it (e.g., "good," "average," or "poor")? What did the organization do (or not do) to achieve this level of corporate citizenship?

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Solution Summary

By examples, this solution describes the knowledge, skills, and individual behaviors related to political competence and to be good corporate citizen. By example, a particular healthcare organization is also evaluated in terms of corporate citizenship (e.g., "good," "average," or "poor"). It also discusses what the organization did (or not do) to achieve this level of corporate citizenship.

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Interesting questions! Let's take a closer look.


1. In general terms, what knowledge, skills, and individual behaviors must an executive have to be politically competent and to be good corporate citizens?

There is no consensus on the exact definition of either political competence or good corporate citizenship. However, there are some common threads. Both have to do with ethics and doing the right thing at the right time by having the necessary skills, abilities and behaviors.


I attached an excellent article (Source: URL: http://www1.oecd.org/puma/ethics/symposium/uhr.htm (see political competence). It addresses the difference between personal competence (i.e., personal ethical responsibility, personal integrity, accountability, etc.) and political competence (i.e., political ethical responsibility, interest in corporate goals, responsibility to act in the public interest versus personal or organizations interest, conduct behavior according to the standards that stand up to public scrutiny, advise on and protect the public interest, public trust and credibility, etc.). Since United States is one of the OECD countries of which the article addresses, this information is relevant to US as well.

In other words, political competence is the ability to understand what you can and cannot control, when to take action, anticipate who is going to resist your agenda and determine who you need on your side to push your agenda forward. Political competence is about knowing how to work through coalitions. It is about being politically aware. Then, the politically competent person takes this awareness and transfer to a series of skills and competencies, as we see in the nursing example below. Political competence is part of demonstrating good corporate citizenship.


First, though let's look a little closer at the knowledge and skills associated with political competence and its link to good corporate citizenship. Some, for example, argue that political competence is a skill or group of skills, which is a part of good corporate governance and citizenship, and others argue the exact opposite (e.g., good corporate citizenship is part of being politically competence). So, there is relatedness, as well as some differences (as you could be a politically savvy CEO, but yet not act as a good corporate citizenship e.g. exploiting environment for economic gains, lack of integrity, oneness, and honest e.g., Enron, WorldCom, and so on). Therefore, political competence (and the groups of associated skills) needs to be flavored with the skills associated with the 'ethics' of being a good corporate citizen (dong what is ethical responsible and accountable to both the organization and the society as large e.g., open communication and dialogue to the community, integrity, transparency, sharing information opening with the company employees and the public, environmental concerns and application measures to protect the environment, community charities, etc.) in order to be effective at both the societal and organizational level.

Thus, one part of being a good corporate citizen demands the skill of political competence, which is then flavored with ethical responsible and accountability (Longest, 2002). Open and honest communication, trust and integrity are at the heart of good corporate citizenship through engaging open dialogue with the public:

"Corporate citizenship activities drive communication within the corporation [i.e., open communication-transparency, sustainability], breaking silos so finance, marketing, manufacturing, the CEO, corporate communication, public affairs have a dialogue. A stronger dialogue with the stakeholders about what the corporation believes and what it values so it can close the gaps between beliefs and performance.... Best corporate practice for communication and corporate citizenship activities include the corporations attitude toward resources, the environment, and the community..." (http://www.vnegris.com/NJNIRI-1-goodman-cci.pdf).

EXAMPLE: Nursing

Political competence is the skills, perspectives, and values needed for effective political involvement within the nurse's professional role. Political competence is necessary within nursing to (a) intervene in the broad socioeconomic and environmental determinants of health, (b) intervene effectively in ...

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